Admit it, you have a messy workplace. No? Well, mate, you’re excused. But if you are one of those who always wonder why they have chaotic workplaces, then this article is for you.
If there’s anything that reflects how we are as people, besides the colour of the socks we would choose to wear on our high school get-together party or the food stations we would imagine ourselves coming back to during the whole event, it’s probably our work stations.
A cluttered workspace is the next best thing to your mother’s Shepherd’s pie left to spoil on the kitchen counter. Both won’t quite serve their purpose.
Why is my work station messy?
Well, the answer to this revolves around our refusal to clean up our workplaces. It could be that we worry about throwing away important office documents if we don’t properly clean up our stations.
It also can be rooted to the emotional markers we tag our work supplies with.
Exhibit A: the slice of pizza you forgot to eat because you were busy thinking about the possible reasons why your office crush gave it to you
Exhibit B: the pile of congratulatory letters you received from your boss and co-workers for doing a great job
Exhibit C: the blankets of paper cut-outs or unused wooden skewers from your monthly outdoor barbecue party, or;
Exhibit D: the colony of stuffed animals you keep as stress-relievers
And the list, as they say, goes on and on.
The psychology behind clutter-filled workspaces
According to psychologytoday.com, people who keep a messy workspace tend to over-attach to objects. They see objects as humans with feelings.
With that on the table, they tend to have a hard time identifying the things that need to be kept and those that need to be thrown away.
People who have chaotic work stations treat all of their office supplies as equals. And what do they end up having? Pile upon pile of rubbish kept along with the important stuff.
Why do I need to clean up my work station?
Well, this is pretty simple. The no. 1 reason why we need to keep our work stations clean at all times is safety. I mean, a clutter-filled work area will surely play host to many kinds of grimy and awful things.
Imagine cockroaches, bugs, and ants crawling their way through your work table, yikes!
Also, since you share the work area with other employees, keeping your space clean is a must. Of course, you wouldn’t want to annoy your workmates with your unfinished biscuit or biscuit crumbles on the floor (you’re welcome, ant friends), or the pile of newspaper clippings that already jump out of your area and invade nearby stations.
And even if you work at home and have your work room all to yourself, you still need to keep in mind that a clean environment equates to being more efficient. Which brings us to the next reason: productivity.
Well-maintained workspaces provide us with sense of peace and clarity. Most people tend to be more productive when they do their tasks in clean work areas – no unnecessary clutter. It’s also easier to check through properly-sorted documents and files. It makes doing tasks much faster and stress-free.
How do I declutter my work area?
It doesn’t take rocket science to get this done. Here are the best tips you can follow to have your workspace all cleaned up.
Is this some kind of a magical cleaning tool, you ask? Sadly, no. The first thing you need to do is accept the fact that you have a messy workplace and it needs some serious cleaning. NOW. Not tomorrow. But NOW. Well, after reading through this, of course. However, due to our tight schedules and heavy workload, we’d much rather finish up on our tasks than contemplate on how we can clean up our work stations. This, mate, is where the rubber meets the road. Take a minute of your time each day to clean up your area. If you procrastinate, you will end up having a giant mound of documents and whatnot screaming right before your eyes.
2. Imagine your dream workspace.
What do you envision your work area to look like? If you have a clear vision of what you would want your space to be, then the next steps will become much easier to handle.
3. Never be afraid to throw what needs to be thrown.
Make peace with the fact that you need to bid goodbye to some of your most treasured items. Begin by putting all your unsorted documents in one place and start checking what and what can’t be discarded.
The usual items you can throw out are your old notes, doodled papers, worn-out envelopes, and other documents you think you will no longer use.
Top tip: Instead of using post-its, you can always use virtual applications and notes to keep track of your tasks, meetings, and deadlines. Saves you a lot of space!
This may take time depending on the bulk of files to check but finishing this up is synonymous to getting the whole task done. Well, almost.
4. Sort things out.
I know the feeling of having to search through unsorted documents and files. It always feels like you’re inside an awfully long tunnel and the only way you can come out of it is if you retreat and try a different route. It feels endless! After clearing your documents, you can then sort the good ones by urgency; low importance, medium importance, and high importance. You can also have separate storages for newly-received papers, those that are ongoing, and the ones that have been dealt with already.
Top tip: To save money, you can use your old wooden storages at home and turn them into useful storage for your documents.
You can also scan your documents and store them digitally.
5. Put your supplies in their proper place.
Which items do you use the most? Keep them near you. By identifying how often you pull them out, you can properly sort your documents. For your office supplies such as post-its, notes, pens, and envelopes, you can store them in trays or cabinets or any place where they can be easily accessed and seen. By doing this, you also get to determine how much you still have and the items that need replenishing.
Top tip: If you have a relatively small work area, you can put your sorted documents under or behind your desk. Also, choose vertical storages over horizontal ones to save space and keep things easily seen.
You have enough pens to last you a year. But buying more helps you sleep at night. Well, that’s one concern that we need to address. To have an eyesore-free work desk, remember to always keep only those that are essential to your work. Hoarding supplies just because they look appealing to you or they make your workspace the envy of your officemates will do you no good.
Just keep the ones you need and you’re all good.
7. Make keeping your work area squeaky clean a habit.
Cleaning up your workspace is one thing. But maintaining the cleanliness is another concern. After all your office work is done, preferably right before you clock out, make sure that you spend a moment to get all your trash thrown and documents placed in their right folders. Let this practice stay in your system until you get used to it. Trust me, it works.
A messy workspace can also mean another thing: you are a very hardworking person who always strives to get things done as soon as possible. But always remember that keeping your workspace clean is also part of the job. So take out all your files and start sweeping your dusty work area!